years of being on top;
Knights bring back the glory to Muralla by Niño Paulo Gacusana
Colegio de San Juan de Letran seniors basketball players have always been
a force to reckon with in the National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA) cage wars. Taking 16 titles in the 81 years of the NCAA, the Knights
are on the top of the pack in the number of mens basketball titles.
The Circle takes a survey in the annals of NCAA history, to commemorate
Letrans first 15 titles.
1938: First One is the Sweetest
After Letran joined the NCAA in 1932, the Knights were at the forefront
in basketball. In 1938, Letran got its first seniors basketball title.
Coached by Jacinto Ciria Cruz, and led by able team captain Felicismo
Fajardo, the Knights achieved their first title with much dedication and
1950: Murder Inc.
If you think that Ja Rule coined the phrase Murder Inc., think again.
Letrans own Murder Inc. was its second champion team. In 1950, the
Knights were assured of their second NCAA title after walloping the opposition
with a 9-0 card. The tournament format in the six-team league then was
the team with the highest record in the double round eliminations won
the title. Although they lost their final game against the San Beda Red
Lions, the Knights, by virtue of their superior team standing, won the
1960: The Drought is Over
The Knights emerged from the eliminations with a 7-3 record, better than
second round winner San Beda. As a result, Letran and San Beda fought
for the right to challenge the Jose Rizal College (JRC) Heavy Bombers
for the title game. With CSJL winning, they met the fearsome JRC squad.
Coached by Lord Bibiano Ouano, the Knights stayed close all
throughout. At the final seconds, Basilio Go converted a shot that gave
the Knights their third championship, 75-73.
1966: The Incredibles
Disney started The Incredibles? Nah, Letran started it when the 1960 champion
team was given the title of The Incredibles, as they won the trophy amid
difficult odds. The cellar-dwellers the previous year, the Knights, with
an intact lineup, came out charging against JRC. Erecting a 10-point lead,
the Knights of Nilo Verona never looked back as they clinched their fourth
1970: The Sword Overcomes Arrows
In a clash of the titans, CSJL met the De La Salle Green Archers in the
Finals. David Regullano, Ricky Pineda and Rudolf Hines sustained
firepower gave CSJL another trophy.
1979: The Battle of Intramuros
Letrans Eduardo Baldamero, Angelito Esguerra, Pedrito Anison and
several notables defeated the high-flying Mapua Cardinals, the only instance
when Letran and Mapua met in the Finals.
1982-84: Grand Slam
Larry Albanos boys recaptured the NCAA title in 1982 via a near-sweep
of the eliminations. With Letran winning the first (4-1, only loss from
San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSCR)), and the second (5-0) rounds,
no championship round was needed as the Knights brought the title back
to Muralla. The 1983 Finals series was a memorable one when the Knights
faced the tough SSC-R Stags. But with Samboy Lim and Romy Ang in the lineup,
the Knights sustained the momentum gained from 1982, and won the 1983
In 1984, Letran made NCAA history for being the third team to do a three-peat.
1986-87: Mr. Excitement Cant Stop the Knights
Under coach Eddie Reyes, Letran faced the red-hot SSC-R Stags. Led by
Paul Alvarez, who would later be Philippine Basketball Associations
Mr. Excitement, would always emerge as title contenders. But
with the support of Letranites, the Knights would find ways to defeat
their new nemesis. In 1986s Finals Game 3, Letrans awesome
defense forced Alvarez to turnover the ball, which led to Letrans
Monty Aquinos conversion that gave Letran another trophy, 88-86.